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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A frighteningly realistic portrayal of the future, 17 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Matched (Kindle Edition)
Every dystopia has a different "cure" for today's problems. Whether it's teenagers fighting to their death in an arena to pay for society's historic crimes against the government; dividing society into factions depending on the different virtues people exhibit, at the expense of all other virtues; or eradicating love and calling it a disease, every dystopian society has based itself on one ideal in particular to make the "perfect" society. In Matched, the main idea is control. If the government makes all life's big decisions for its people (who you marry, where you live, what job you do, how many children you have, even when you die), there will be no more crime and everyone can live in harmony. When the government even controls what information you have access to (choose from the 100 Songs or the 100 Poems or the 100 Stories or the 100 Paintings etc. but you won't be able to get your hands on anything else, and forget about being taught how to write - creativity is discouraged), how can you ever know not to trust them? How can you ever know that once society was very different and that it wasn't so bad? That's the situation our heroine Cassia is in until the day she is Matched - the day she finds out who she will spend the rest of her life with. On that day, everything changes. Why? Because not only has she been matched with her best friend from childhood Xander, but another face also flickers on the screen as her Match: the face of Ky, an Aberration who is permitted to live in society but without privileges, such as being Matched. So if Ky is not supposed to be Matched, why did Cassia see his face?

This "glitch" changes everything for Cassia. It doesn't matter how much Society tells her that she should not have seen Ky's face, the fact that she saw it causes her to wonder about Ky. Is he her perfect Match after all? And if he is, does that mean that Society's system has failed because he's an Aberration or does it mean that it works because it Matched her with someone she now finds herself drawn to? Now the more Cassia sees Ky, the more she is intrigued by him and the more he draws her into a world she barely knew existed. He teaches her how to write and he teaches her that there was once more to life than what Society would have people believe. At the heart of it all is poetry, and some beautiful poetry is included here, so treasured by Cassia because not only is it a gift from Ky, but because society completely outlaws it. Matched chronicles Cassia's journey as she wakes up from the controlled slumber everyone in the Society is under and begins to question what is going on around her for the first time.

The reason Matched works so well is because most of us live in a society where freedom is one of our most precious commodities. For many of us, to live in society that controls our every thought and action Nineteen Eighty-Four-style is the worst society imaginable. For dictators, the best way to crush rebellion is to prevent original thought and to limit what information your subjects have and as there are societies in the world today similar to this, it's not hard to conceive of the Society of Matched really existing. Likewise, it's easy to see how a teenager who sees a flaw in a perfect society might begin to rebel. For me, that was the best part of Matched because it felt so real in that sense.

The problem it does have is characterization. Honestly it's the same flaw a lot of YA novels have, but I found the characters to be almost a little bland. Cassia definitely has her moments, though, and you have to admire her courage to rebel the way she does and her desire to seek freedom. I can't say the lack of real depth in the characters stopped me from enjoying Matched, and while the story isn't full of action, Condie's writing is detailed and descriptive making it a pleasure to read.

The trilogy is now available for the whole of Matched and I wholly encourage everyone to read the series, though Matched is without a doubt the best of the three. It's thought-provoking and an interesting take on the YA dystopia; a must-read for lovers of dystopia!
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